Friday, October 19, 2012

The Sixty Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

Ruth just wants to have her own space, her own experience that is unique for her. She wants to do something unusual that sets her apart, in other words she wants to be more like her best friend Jack. Jack is quirky and outgoing, his life seems like one adventure after another. Their positions seem to switch when they go to the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, the miniature rooms that have scale items and represent historical rooms, and they find a magical key.

The key draws Ruth and when she touches it she shrinks! All of a sudden Ruth and Jack are exploring the miniature rooms (illegally over the weekend!), making contact with people from different countries and centuries, and trying to discover who has preceded them in the rooms. As they are trying to understand the rules that allow them into the Thorne Rooms, they are also dealing with the real world problems that are popping up: Jack and his mother might have to move and a famous photographer's lost work.

Snooze. The premise is fantastic. Have you seen the Thorne Rooms? They're amazing! Why wouldn't anyone want to explore them? They're beautiful and so realistic. Unfortunately that's all it seems to have going for it. A book cannot float on a great premise and a real setting which is vividly described. And unfortunately that's what it felt like because none of the other elements were strong enough to keep it going.

Ruth and Jack were not compelling characters, their problems never felt immediate nor crucial. I honestly felt like who cares if Jack moves away, maybe Ruth will get out from under her rock. I didn't like them as individuals, and definitely didn't like them as a pair. They didn't have a lot of common sense and never really communicate to each other, at least they don't communicate as friends! As a book that felt like it was trying to be mostly character-driven, or at least should be mostly character-driven, it was rather poorly done.

There were a lot of characters that had interweaving connections, and it almost felt like too much. Too many subplots and too many characters that I didn't get to spend time with and therefore didn't really care for. It turned into a bit of a confusing tangle of who people were, and why they were integral to the plot. Who wants to go through that?

I have to admit that this book wasn't bad, though it's heavily weighted toward the negative side so far. It's mostly the fact that it was boring, I felt almost ambivalent toward it which is in some ways worse than feeling like it was a horrid book. At least then I could say that I felt strongly for it. Instead I got a boring book with lackluster characters and a somewhat predictable plot.* The best part was the descriptions about the rooms, which Marianna Malone did exceptionally well. (This might be because she has a background in art.) I do wish there would have been either photographs or illustrations of the rooms, since they are a real place it would have been nice to have a better mental visual of them.

A quick note on the audio book. The reader was fine-ish. I didn't love her voice, though I was quite impressed with her ability to do accents. This was mostly a personal preference of reading style, and there wasn't anything super awful. There was something a bit grating about her reading though, so perhaps she and the book were a perfect pair. 

*I would like to note here that I skipped about 70 pages. I just got too bored and went to the end. Everything ended as I thought I would so I didn't feel like I missed anything.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...